Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludaris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren
Hollywood’s most unlikely mega-franchise returns with the awkwardly titled The Fate of the Furious. Not having skipped a beat since the tragic death of Paul Walker, this eighth instalment in the Fast and Furious series has retooled with a new director and the addition of not one but two Academy Award winning actresses to the cast.
While honeymooning in Havana with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom (Vin Diesel) is approached by the cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) with a proposition. When Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) calls in Dom and his team to help recover a stolen EMP device in Berlin, the unthinkable happens as Dom betrays them, stealing the weapon and driving off. With the team determined to discover what could lead Dom to turn his back on his family, and the government determined to work out Cipher’s endgame, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) insists that their best chance of catching up with Dom is for Hobbs and the gang to join forces with their once sworn enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Continue reading
Director: James Wan
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell
No one does what the Fast & Furious franchise does better than them. From reasonably modest beginnings, and seemingly stalled after its third entry, it has become the jewel in Universal’s crown and has taken over US$3 billion worldwide. Very few franchises make it to seven films, and those that do are often on their last legs, but with Furious 7 this one just keeps getting bigger.
It is impossible to watch this film without Paul Walker’s tragic death being at the front of your mind. Walker was killed in a high speed car accident in November 2013 midway through the shooting of Furious 7 and many legitimately felt that it would be the end of the franchise. But after substantial rewrites, production recommenced, with Walker’s scenes finished using body doubles and digital trickery. And it worked. Furious 7 is not only a fun film but a fitting and heartfelt farewell to Walker, which, in a way, should not be a surprise. At its heart this series has always been about family (just in case you missed the surely hundreds of times the word family has been used across the seven films), so there is arguably no franchise better suited to handling the loss of one of its stars than this one. Continue reading
Director: Boaz Yakin
Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon
The only difference between Safe and every other Jason Statham movie is that it is the one with the little girl in it. That is not meant to be a knock on Statham, just a way of acknowledging that he is a guy who knows what he is good at so keeps doing it. Statham is, today, what so many of his Expendables co-stars were 20-30 years ago. He is one of the last in a dying breed of Hollywood tough guys. After starting out in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Statham has carved out a career for himself in short-titled action movies like The Transporter, Crank, Death Race and The Mechanic. In Safe we get more of the same.
This time around Statham plays Luke Wright, who upon spotting a little girl hiding from some big, scary looking dudes appoints himself her protector. What he doesn’t know is this little girl is a maths prodigy who knows the combination of numbers required to open a safe containing $30million. This piece of knowledge places her square in the middle of a fight between the Triads, the Russian mafia and a unit of corrupt New York cops (you can just imagine the light bulb moment when the producer tossing up whether to do Statham vs. the Triads, Statham vs. the Russian Mafia or Statham vs. corrupt cops thought, “Why not do all three?”). However, what none of them know is that Luke Wright is a highly trained, cage-fighting, ex-elite agent who specialises in taking out the garbage. Chaos, chases and butt-kicking ensues.
Statham is the best going around at what he does, but while what he does would have seen him headlining some of the year’s biggest blockbusters in the 1980s and 1990s, today it means catering to a niche market. You know what you’re getting with a Jason Statham movie, and Safe delivers just that, nothing more and nothing less. The teaming up of Statham with a little girl attempts to give the movie a heart and provides a comic touch without falling into the goofball territory that the ‘tough-guys and kids’ movies of The Rock, Vin Diesel and Hulk Hogan tend to find themselves in, but really Safe does nothing to distinguish itself from the rest.
Rating – ★★★
Review by Duncan McLean